Dally’s Fly Fishing Report 5/20/20

Chris Shaughnessy from KY caddis brown trout with Steve Dally

Caddis are still hatching and fish are still biting, but hatches are coming less often now and at less predictable times and locations. Small sections of river can be covered in bugs while just upriver or down there is little activity. Even when there is no visible insect activity however, rainbows are happy to take DW Super Midges, Rainbow Warriors, and Ruby midges. The rainbow bite can be silly good at times, really silly. Wade fishermen who have taken advantage of the low water recently have been seen grinning from ear to ear.

The odd brown gets fooled here and there as well, either on a well placed Root Beer midge, Sunday Special, Z-Wing Caddis, or other caddis imitation – E/C and E/Z Caddis dry flies are still quite useful when fish are rising. Sometimes in the late morning, but usually later in the afternoon, there are brief windows of time when there are enough hatching caddis to stimulate the browns into a strong but brief feeding session. Late this afternoon, a light hatch of caddis coincided with a light hatch of mayflies – presumably an early hatch of sulfurs – with a combined intensity just strong enough to get a few browns to feed for a while.

Corey Allen always seems to find browns every trip. Steve Dally image

In a way the appearance of sulfurs signals the transition from spring to summer on the White River. It’s a sign that the caddis hatch is waning, and the summertime fishery on the White is about to unfold, accompanied by all of its summertime bugs. If this year’s sulfur hatch is a strong one, it will quickly get the attention of lots of nice browns, so now is the time to stock up on your Parachute Sulfurs, Tailwater Soft Hackles in orange, Pheasant Tail nymphs, and other mayfly nymphs.

Rising water with stain and debris is the great enemy of hatch based fishing on fluctuating tailwater systems like the White. With all the rain and all the fluctuations in dam release lately, the plan has to be adapted daily to try and stay in clear water conditions, where #14-18 flies can get noticed by lots of trout. Flows on the White recently have been variable but relatively low in the morning, and rising in the afternoon, sometimes up two feet, sometimes up four feet. All that up and down of the river churns up alot of algae debris. Avoiding the thickest concentrations of debris is most of the battle.

Norfork is flowing at about 2,600cfs most of the time, low enough to float in a kayak and step out on the islands to fish. Fishing is productive on Root Beer midges, Whitetail midges, Hunchback Scuds, Micro Mayfly nymphs, Pheasant Tail nymphs.

Chase priest with a well fed rainbow trout